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The award-winning Phase Change Matters blog tracks the latest news and research on phase change materials and thermal energy storage. E-mail tips and comments to Ben Welter, communications director at Entropy Solutions. Follow the blog on Twitter at @PureTemp. Subscribe to the weekly PCM newsletter. Or join the discussion on LinkedIn.

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Research roundup: Thermo-regulating bamboo fabric; PCM emulsions; nanoparticle-enhanced composite; more

Ben Welter - Friday, November 30, 2018

From Journal of Cleaner Production:

Autonomous greenhouse microclimate through hydroponic design and refurbished thermal energy by phase change material

From Journal of Energy Storage:

Development of heat accumulation unit based on heterogeneous structure of MF/PCM for cogeneration units

From Textile Research Journal:

Preparation and evaluation of thermo-regulating bamboo fabric treated by microencapsulated phase change materials

From International Journal of Clothing Science and Technology:

Development of thermo-regulating fabrics using PCM microcapsules with poly(methyl methacrylate-co-2-hydroxy ethyl methacrylate) shell and n-alkane core

From Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering International Congress:

Preparation and Properties of Nanoparticle-enhanced Composite Phase Change Material with Ceramic Porous Media

From Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells:

A comprehensive review on phase change material emulsions: Fabrication, characteristics, and heat transfer performance

From 59th Conference on Simulation and Modelling:

Convective Melting Modeling Approach for Phase Change Materials with Variable Boundary Heating

From Energy Conversion and Management:

Simultaneous energy storage and recovery in the triplex-tube heat exchanger with PCM, copper fins and Al2O3 nanoparticles

From International Journal of Energy Research:

Operation strategies guideline for packed bed thermal energy storage systems [pdf]

From Journal of Molecular Liquids:

Solidification process of hybrid nano-enhanced phase change material in a LHTESS with tree-like branching fin in the presence of thermal radiation

From Energy:

Experiment study on thermal performance of building integrated with double layers shape-stabilized phase change material wallboard

PCM briefing: RAL members to meet in Dusseldorf next week; reliability test completed at Morocco CSP plant

Ben Welter - Friday, November 09, 2018

• Members of the RAL Quality Association PCM will meet in Dusseldorf on Thursday, Nov. 15. The agenda includes discussions on quality and testing specifications; reference materials in calorimetry; PCM product certification; and the promotion of PCM products in the European Union, Germany, Netherlands and the United States.

A 10-day reliability test has been completed at the 150MW Noor Ouarzazate III concentrated solar power plant in Morocco. The plant's molten salt storage system is designed to produce electricity in the absence of sunlight for 7.5 hours. During the test, the plant output over 13.2 GWh to the grid.

Kathu Solar Park, the 100MW concentrated solar power plant in South Africa's Northern Cape Province, has begun generating steam, an important step in the plant's commissioning process. The plant uses molten salt to store heat from the solar field for up to 4.5 hours. The heat can be recovered to produce steam and generate electricity.

• The agenda is taking shape for the 3rd Sustainable Oils & Fats International Congress, to be held April 4-5, 2019, in Paris. Among the topics: "Sourcing & Production of Sustainable Oils & Fats" and "Creating, Maintaining, Controlling Sustainable Supply Chain." 

Emirates Central Cooling Systems Corp. says it is on track to establish the world’s largest district cooling project by increasing its capacity of district cooling in Business Bay, Dubai. Business Bay is now served by three major district cooling plants with a total capacity of 135,000 refrigeration tons. The addition of three more plants will bring the collective capacity to 350,000 RT.

Research roundup: Sodium acetate trihydrate; palm kernel vegetable fat; spiral-fin heat exchanger; gas flow through bed of granular PCM; more

Ben Welter - Tuesday, November 06, 2018

From Energy:

Preparation and thermal properties of sodium acetate trihydrate as a novel phase change material for energy storage

From Journal of Building Engineering:

The Palm Kernel Vegetable Fat: a Low-cost Bio-based Phase Change Material for Thermal Energy Storage in Buildings

From International Journal of Applied Engineering Research:

Carbonaceous Phase Change Nanocomposites: A low cost energy storage approach [pdf]

From Applied Mathematical Modelling:

Investigation of Phase Change in a Spiral-Fin Heat Exchanger

From Applied Energy:

Numerical investigation of the thermal performance enhancement of latent heat thermal energy storage using longitudinal rectangular fins and flat micro-heat pipe arrays

From Materials Science and Engineering:

The characteristics of temperature fluctuations in thermal insulation covered with layer of PCM [pdf]

From Applied Thermal Engineering:

Thermal properties and applications of microencapsulated PCM for thermal energy storage: A review

From International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer:

Evaluation and optimization of thermal performance for a finned double tube latent heat thermal energy storage
Influence of gas compressibility on gas flow through bed of granular phase change material

From Journal of Energy Storage:

From International Journal of Refrigeration:

Investigating organic phase change behavior with thermal photography

PCM briefing: Isomer can store energy for up to 18 years; concept combines pumped storage and heat storage using water as a medium

Ben Welter - Friday, November 02, 2018

• Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology and Universidad de La Rioja have created a system capable of storing solar energy for extended periods. The Molecular Solar Thermal Energy Storage system uses a molecular photo switch made from carbon, hydrogen and nitrogen. Sunlight turns the molecule into an energy-rich isomer. The isomer can be stored in a liquid form to be used for heating at night or in winter. “The energy in this isomer can now be stored for up to 18 years. And when we come to extract the energy and use it, we get a warmth increase which is greater than we dared hope for,” said Kasper Moth-Poulsen, professor at Chalmers.

• New research at California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reveals how an unusual type of ice known as Ice VII can form at speeds over 1,000 miles per hour. "This ice type was only discovered occurring naturally in March, trapped inside diamonds deep underground," reports Science Alert, "and this latest study looks in detail at how exactly it takes shape – apparently in a way that's completely different to how water usually freezes into ice."

• A research team at the Graz University of Technology, Austria, has combined the advantages of pumped storage technology and heat storage using water as a medium in a hybrid storage concept called "hot-water pumped storage hydropower." The new system stores and supplies electricity, heat and cooling energy. 

• The U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has openings for program directors, tech-to-market advisors and two-year fellowships.  

Registration is open for the 2019 ARPA-E Energy Innovation Summit, to be held in Denver, Colo., July 8-10. Now in its 10th year, the annual conference and technology showcase "brings together experts from different technical disciplines and professional communities to think about America’s energy challenges in new and innovative ways."

A full agenda is available for the World Bio Markets conference, to be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands, April 1-3. Speakers include Rolf Hogan, executive director, Roundtable on Sustainable Biomaterials; Chris Sayner, vice president customer alliances, corporate sustainability, Croda; and Davide Bragholi, project manager, environmental innovations, Tetra Pak. 

• Registration is open for the inaugural Thermal Materials Summit to be held in Los Angeles on May 2. This technical forum will explore the latest advancements in thermal interface materials for professionals working in aerospace, automotive, telecom, batteries and other fields. Presentation proposals are due by Dec. 7.

Ecozen Solutions of India is one of five finalists in Rabobank’s inaugural Food Loss Challenge Asia. The competition aims to identify innovative ag-tech start-ups working to solve farm-to-market food loss problems. The finalists will present their solutions to a panel of judges at Rabobank’s annual Asia Food & Agribusiness advisory board meeting in Singapore later this month. Ecozen makes portable solar cold rooms for small farms, using a thermal storage unit that can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

PCM briefing: Online master's degree in thermal energy storage; Alexium appoints new CFO

Ben Welter - Thursday, September 27, 2018

Dr. Luisa F. Cabeza• The enrollment period is open for an online master's degree program on thermal energy storage. The program, offered by the University of Lleida and the University of Barcelona, includes "training in technical aspects of TES and the energy system, but it also includes soft skills in patenting and entrepreneurship." The program is directed by Dr. Luisa F. Cabeza of the University of Lleida. 

Siemens Gamesa held a topping-out ceremony this week for its 30MWh electric thermal energy storage facility in Hamburg-Altenwerder, Germany. The pilot facility, which stores energy in 1,000 tons of rock fill at temperatures of 600º C, is in its final phase of construction and due to be fully commissioned in 2019.

• Lauren Boteler, a thermal/packaging engineer for the U.S. Army Research Laboratory's Sensors and Electron Devices Directorate, has been named Woman Engineer of the Year by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' Electronics Packaging and Photonics Division.

Indonesia has imposed a three-year moratorium on new palm oil plantations and ordered a review of existing ones in an effort to address sustainability and environmental concerns.  

• The U.S. patent system, the first in the world to incentivize large numbers of ordinary citizens to innovate, has long been ranked No. 1 in the world. But over the past few years the system has fallen to 12th. Forbes reports that Andrei Iancu, the new director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, is working to turn that around and "bring about a much-needed revitalization of the American patent system."

Alexium International has appointed Jason Lewis as chief financial officer, succeeding Aaron Krech, who resigned effective Sept. 30. Lewis has over 20 years of experience in financial roles in the specialty chemicals industry. Alexium also announced the appointment of Allen Reihman as chief commercial officer. He will lead the company’s sales, marketing and technology commercialization efforts. Alexium, based in Greer, S.C., and Perth, Australia, makes flame-retardant and PCM-enhanced fabric treatments.

USDA seeks to add PCM category to BioPreferred Program

Ben Welter - Monday, September 24, 2018

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is proposing to add phase change material as a category of biobased products eligible for procurement preference by federal agencies and their contractors.

USDA BioPreferred labelPhase change material is not currently one of the 109 categories in the USDA's BioPreferred Program. But biobased PCM products are still eligible to participate in the program if they become certified through a voluntary labeling initiative, explained Caroline Tapscott, BioPreferred Program scientist. Products made by three PCM manufacturers – Croda Inc., Phase Change Energy Solutions and PureTemp LLC – qualified for the BioPreferred catalog through that initiative.

The current minimum biobased content for products in such "certification-only" categories is 25 percent. The USDA is proposing to raise the minimum to 71 for phase change materials. All PCM products now listed in the catalog meet that threshold.

The BioPreferred Program was created by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 and expanded by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. The purpose is to increase the use of biobased products.

Under the program, federal agencies are required, with some exceptions, to purchase biobased products within designated product categories when the purchase price of the product exceeds $10,000 or when the quantity of such products or functionally equivalent products purchased over the preceding fiscal year equaled $10,000 or more.

In the document describing the proposed rule changes, the USDA says it "has been unable to obtain data on the amount of phase change materials purchased by federal procuring agencies" but "believes that some federal agencies and their contractors do and would likely purchase these types of products."

The USDA is proposing to add 29 other biobased categories as well, including adhesives, concrete curing agents, exterior paints and facial care products. Public comments on the proposed rule changes will be accepted until Nov. 13, 2018.

https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/09/14/2018-19681/designation-of-product-categories-for-federal-procurement

PCM briefing: Brookins confirmed as Alexium CEO; palmitic acid, stearic acid on U.S. tariff list

Ben Welter - Monday, July 16, 2018

Dr. Robert BrookinsAlexium International has appointed Dr. Robert Brookins, right, as chief executive officer and managing director of the company. Brookins, formerly executive vice president of research and development, was appointed interim CEO in May, replacing Dirk Van Hyning, who resigned for personal reasons. Alexium, based in Greer, S.C., and Perth, Australia, makes flame-retardant and PCM-enhanced fabric treatments.

Palmitic acid, stearic acid and their salts and esters are on a list of more than 6,000 items on which the United States may impose additional import tariffs in its escalating trade war with China.

Two top executives at Wilmar International have stepped down after Greenpeace published a report linking the world's largest palm oil trading company to a supplier accused of deforestation.

Active Energy Systems, a clean-tech startup in Tennessee, is developing an electro-thermal energy storage system that will use waste heat generated by data centers, industrial complexes, institutions and power plants to store and distribute energy more efficiently and cheaply than systems using conventional batteries. "Using power from the grid at off-peak times," Venture Nashville Connections reports, "the process transforms water into ice -- spraying it through an oil layer, which allows the water to freeze but not stick to a submerged heat exchanger. Instead, it forms pellets resembling Dippin' Dots ice cream, [co-founder Mitch] Ishmael said. Then the cycle operates in reverse, using waste heat to melt the ice and generate electricity back to the grid."

• New from Research Mentor:" Global Phase Change Material (PCM) Market will be Worth USD 770.1 Million by 2023"

• New from Questale: "Global Eutectic Phase Change Material Market Research Report 2018"

• "What are some new trends in solar energy research and development in 2018?" a Quora member asked recently. Three answers were posted. The one provided by Yogi Goswami, director of the University of South Florida's Clean Energy Research Center, got more than 120 "upvotes" and was picked up by Forbes magazine. Goswami discussed the strengths and weaknesses of two competing technologies: photovoltaics and concentrating solar power. He expressed confidence that CSP will eventually become commercially competitive because it has two big advantages over PV: "It uses the same thermal power conversion as the conventional thermal power (fossil fuel or nuclear based) and can therefore be integrated with the existing power infra-structure easily" and it "uses thermal energy storage which is about one-tenth the cost of battery storage."

PCM briefing: Sunamp's copper heat exchangers; renewable energy's 'next big thing'

Ben Welter - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

• The industry group Copper Alliance takes a look at Sunamp Ltd.'s use of copper heat exchangers in its PCM-equipped heat battery systems: "Copper has a few properties that make it ideal for this application, including high thermal conductivity, lack of corrosion when in contact with the PCM, and the ability to satisfy potable water regulations required to fully certify Sunamp’s products."    

Bloomberg's David Fickling explains why the development of lower-cost energy storage technologies will be renewable energy's "next big thing."

• Swedish researchers have produced a bio-based material that is reported to be stronger than spider silk and all other known bio-based materials, whether fabricated or natural. Working with cellulose nanofiber, the essential building block of plants, researchers at KTH Royal Institute of Technology have developed larger, lightweight materials for use in airplanes, cars, furniture and other products.

Ecozen Solutions of India, which makes PCM-equipped portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, was profiled this week in India Climate Dialogue

• New from Global Info Research: "Global Microencapsulation Technology Market 2018 by Manufacturers, Countries, Type and Application, Forecast to 2023"

• New from Market Research Future: "Global Advanced Energy Storage Systems Market Research Report - Forecast to 2027"

• New from HongChun: "2018 Global Molten Salt Solar Energy Thermal Storage and Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) Industry Depth Research Report"

Horizon 2020's RealValue group has released findings on its three-year, small-scale energy storage project. The group, led by Glen Dimplex and consisting of 13 partner organizations, installed smart electric thermal storage systems in 750 commercial and residential properties in Ireland, Germany and Latvia. Among the findings: "Smart control of SETS devices simultaneously reduces charging costs of the devices while improving the thermal comfort of the end user. It also has potential to manage congestion." 

PCM briefing: Revised version of EU energy directive approved; va-Q-tec signs partnership deal with Unitrans

Ben Welter - Monday, April 23, 2018

• The European Parliament has approved a revised version of the Energy Performance of Buildings directive. The directive aims to reinforce efficiency in the building sector, which accounts for about 40 percent of energy use in Europe. 

• 1414 Degrees is installing a 25MWh demonstration of its silicon-based thermal energy storage system at a poultry processing plant in Australia. 

• New market research from 99Strategy: "Global Micro-capsule Phase Change Composite Material Market 2018-2023: Industry Overview, Segment, Type, Application, Competition, Demand, Price"

• Thermal materials specialist va-Q-tec has signed a partnership deal with Unitrans Ltd. of Japan. Unitrans will begin offering temperature-control box fulfillment services in Osaka in June, expanding va-Q-tec's global distribution network. 

• The technical program at ASHRAE's annual conference in Houston June 23-27 includes a session on "Principles and Practices of Thermal Energy Storage Systems for Air Conditioning."

• On the list of short courses available at the American Oil Chemists' Society annual meeting and expo in Minneapolis May 6-9: "Fundamentals of Oils and Fats Crystallization" (Alejandro Marangoni, University of Guelph) and "Improving the Bottom Line of Oils and Fats Refining" (Ken Carlson, RBD Technologies Inc.). 

Nagpur traffic officer wearing a cooling vest• Traffic cops in Nagpur, India, are beating the heat with cooling vests that contain phase change material, Nagpur Today reports. At a glance, though, the thin vests [right] appear to rely mostly on evaporative cooling. 

• Cold chain solutions provider Cryopak is now offering deterministic container closure integrity testing methods at the company's testing center in Edison, N.J. The methods will be used on flexible packaging, sealed containers and other packaging systems. 

• Working in collaboration with Glaciem Cooling Technologies, the University of South Australia has completed work on a new refrigerated cooling system for the hospitality industry. The PCM-based system was installed at the Bend Motorsport Park in Tailem Bend, Australia. Glaciem's ThermCOLD system uses a salt-based phase change material to store thermal energy, allowing refrigeration plants to run and store energy during off-peak periods, when electricity rates are lower, and then release energy during peak periods. 

• Scientists at England's University of Portsmouth have accidentally created a mutant enzyme that breaks down plastic drink bottles. "The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans," the Guardian reports. "But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process."

Ecozen Solutions of India, which makes portable solar cold rooms for use on small farms, is among 12 organizations shortlisted for the 2018 International Ashden Awards. The system's thermal storage unit can store power for more than 36 hours in case of cloudy or rainy weather.

Research roundup: Thermal protective clothing; nanosilica-enhanced PCM; active-passive ventilation wall; more

Ben Welter - Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Reversible thermochromic microencapsulated phase change materials for thermal energy storage application in thermal protective clothing [Applied Energy]

Micro encapsulated & form-stable phase change materials for high temperature thermal energy storage [Applied Energy]

Thermal performance of an active-passive ventilation wall with phase change material in solar greenhouses [Applied Energy]

A novel nanosilica-enhanced phase change material with anti-leakage and anti-volume-changes properties for battery thermal management [Energy Conversion and Management]

Synthetic Comb-Like Phase-Change Material Poly(Acrylonitrile-co-Lauric Acid) Copolymer for Low Temperature Energy Management [Materials Science Forum]

Fundamental incorporation of the density change during melting of a confined phase change material [Journal of Applied Physics]

Preliminary investigation of thermal behaviour of PCM based latent heat thermal energy storage [E3S Web of Conferences]